I'm A VB: Jason M. Hirst


·        How long have you been using VB?

Since Visual Basic 2, way back in 1992!!  I’ve seen it grow from a child, to its teenage years in VB6 (and the tantrums it sometimes had!) to it’s now young adult years, and loving every release!


·        What industry do you work in?

A mixture: Industrial, Commercial and educational. You name it; I’ve probably done a solution (in VB) for it.


·        How big is your development team?

4 People. Myself as senior developer for Windows and Web based technologies, other members are more specialised in JavaScript magic, as well as a dedicated DBA guru who reduces that little bit more computing time from my SQL Stored Procedures!


·        What kind of apps do you most commonly build?

Mostly they are Windows applications. It’s really hard to define a particular ‘kind’ because each week brings a new challenge.


·        What’s the most interesting app you’ve ever built?

The most interesting was a solution for a large car company here in the UK using GPS and RFID technology. For the GPS part, it had a Windows Mobile device uploading its position to a central server so goods could be tracked around the country. But this was also tied in with an RFID solution, whereby goods leaving one location were: scanned via the RFID readers on the bay doors, marked as “Outgoing” on the database, and upon arriving at a destination, were then re-scanned and read into the database.  It reduced man hours of scanning barcodes significantly, and stock could be moved and tracked from one location to another with zero interaction.


·        Please tell us about an app that you’re working on at the moment.

Currently I’m working on a Digital Signage application.  It uses WPF to present a mixture of 30 second adverts as well as live streaming TV and information presented within a “Ticker Tape”.  The whole application (changing TV channels, uploading new videos, changing video playing order and changing the ticker information) is all handled via webpages.  It’s quite an ambitious project which has received some glowing feedback from critics.


·        What other technologies do you most commonly use?

For my database needs I only use SQL (SQL2005). I also use XNA as a way of relaxing (nothing beats trying to work out something like a maze algorithm that you wouldn’t usually incorporate into your typical working day). And of course I also use Expression with Silverlight and VB.Net.


·        What are some of your favorite VB features?

The preview of errors before compilation is a God-send at times; it really does help and saves an incredible amount of time. I’m really liking and understanding the reasoning behind Linq; at first I thought it was just a gimmick but I do see many benefits now. Also love the DataSources pane; having CRUD routines created for me is again a HUGE timesaver!


·        What do you like most about VB as a programming language?

Combined with Visual Studio, I just refuse to believe that any other product on the market can claim to offer better RAD capabilities. From ‘thought’ to ‘design’ to ‘mockup’ to ‘beta’ to ‘release’, it’s an absolute JOY to use, just feels ‘the’ most integral part of my working environment.


For other interviews in this series, please visit http://imavb.net.


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